The Limbonaut XLVII




    In Portland, Maine Sanctuary Tattoo presented the art show "Lovecraft: A Darker Key", which hosted twelve artists.



    His is one of the "35 Bookplates Belonging to Famous People". 


Comic Books and Graphic Novels

    N. J. Culbard illustrates The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (SelfMadeHero, 2013). *** Over three years in the making, Kim Holm's "Pickman's Model" is a nominee for the Sproing Award, which goes to the best Norwegian comic.



     Philip Eil interviews Niels Hobbs, a marine biologist and one of the movers and shakers of the NecronomiCon Providence 2013. *** In 2009 Georgia State University's 10th Annual New Voices Conference held a tribute to him.



    The article “Unnumbered Polypi” by Richard Maxwell has a section that looks at both Jules Verne and HPL in relation to Alfred Tennyson’s poem “The Kraken” (Victorian Poetry, March 2009). There is no acknowledgement of those who have already made the connection between the poem and Cthulhu. ***  Using inscrutable prose Joe Milutis dedicates a few pages to “The Call of Cthulhu” in Failure, A Writer's Life (Zero Books, 2013).

    *** In Language & Human Nature (Transaction, 2009) Mark Halpern has the section “Marrying Ms. Cthulhu” that deals with HPL, whom he calls “a very minor but quite genuine artist”. L. Sprague de Camp is “Lovecraft’s first and by far best biographer”; while of the 1996 biography by “one S. T. Joshi” Halpern states “Why it was needed isn’t clear” (p. 187; p. 189; p. 190). Halpern is very much concerned with anti-Semitism and is dismayed it is missing in the latter’s biography, while it doesn’t appear enough in the former’s. The book’s index has under “Lovecraft, H. P.” the elaboration “his revulsion at human aliens engenders a monstrous mythical alien, 187-191” (p. 380).

    *** In a section of the chapter “N. Scott Momaday: Blood and Identity” Christopher Douglas looks at “nativist Cthulhu stories” wherein American Indians are identified with the alien Old Ones (Genealogy of Literary Multiculturalism [Cornell University Press, 2009]). *** Pulp Fiction of the 1920s and 1930s (Salem Press, 2013) has essays on the usual suspects by some of the usual suspects. *** Gothicka: Vampire Heroes, Human Gods, and the New Supernatural by Victoria Nelson (see Cr’aster 75 for its HPL connection) has won the PROSE Award for literature.

    *** Immortal Monster: The Mythological Evolution of the Fantastic Beast in Modern Fiction and Film (Greenwood Press, 1999) by Joseph Andriano has in its bibliography The Roots of Horror in the Fiction of H. P. Lovecraft (Dragon Press, 1977) by Barton Levi St. Armand but makes no mention of HPL in the text. *** Brian Kim Stefans (Los Angeles Review of Book) discusses Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy (Zero Books, 2012) by Graham Harman. *** “Satanic Indifference and Ultimate Reality” (LUX: A Journal of Transdisciplinary Writing and Research from Claremont Graduate University, 2013) by Brian J. Reis explores how HPL and others before him have transformed the character of Satan. *** Teaching Speculative Fiction in College: A Pedagogy for Making English Studies Relevant (Georgia State University, 2012) by James H. Shimkus has advice for teaching HPL and others.



    HPL (accompanied by Cthulhu), Poe, Agatha Christie, the Brothers Grimm, Jane Austen, and Homer are the characters who destroy monsters with words in the all-ages game Writer Rumble. *** At the La Vista Public Library (in Nebraska ) a teen librarian has started an Arkham Horror Gaming Club, where kids can play a Cthulhu board game.



   Encyclopedia of Fictional and Fantastic Languages (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006) by Stephen Cain includes entries for "The Haunter of the Dark," "The Rats in the Walls", and Henry Kuttner's "Mimsy Were the Borogoves".



    The vivid map by Jason Thompson brings together the Dreamlands, Dunsany's world, and more.



    Containing stop-motion animation, H. P. Lovecraft's The Dark Sleep by writer/director Brett Piper is based on "The Dreams in the Witch House".



    His stories have inspired Nile, an American technical death metal band formed in 1993.



    Although summaries on such sites as for the movie The Incredible Burt Wonderstone still name a character "Anton Lovecraft", the credits replaces this with "Anton Marvelton". *** A crater on Mercury has received the name "Lovecraft" at the same time as one for (Nicholas) Roerich. Tolkien already has his.



    HPL and Howard made it to "10 Sci Fi and Fantasy Works Every Conservative Should Read".



    Hear "The Colour out of Space" and "The Shadow over Innsmouth" in French. *** Host of the H. P. Lovecraft Archive Donovan K. Loucks talks about his interest in visiting Lovecraft sites as well as much else in a conversation.



    Two octopus-like microorganisms living in the gut of termites have been named Cthulhu macrofasciculumque and Cthylla microfasciculumque, the latter from Brian Lumley's work.



   In February Naked Dudes Reading: Lovecraft takes place in San Francisco's Stage Werx Theatre, where "more than a handful of dudes will read a handful of Lovecraft, in the altogether." Maybe they'll share the passage in "The Call of Cthulhu" about the worshippers "void of clothing". *** On Word: Terror is a pair of adaptations of "Pickman's Model" and "The Picture in the House" that were put on at the Greenfield (Mass.) fringe festival in November.

    *** As near as I can tell from the Italian, Teatro dei Conciatori is the venue for the play Luce Nera (Black Light) by Marina Ruta, and the story involves dreams and the Old Ones. *** In April director Stacey Christodoulou explores his world in love u lovecraft [lab], a collective creation by Montreal's The Other Theatre in collaboration with Infinitheatre. *** There's a Finnish dramatization of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward in Tikkurila.

    *** Created by Zachary Parsons-Lozinski and Jenna Greig, the Edmonton (Canada) production of All the Devils is based on "The Dunwich Horror", though in drag.



    Matthew Kopacz has translated into Polish a collection of Lovecraft, Koszmary i Fantazje [Nightmares and Fantasies], which bears the subtitle Listy i Eseje [Letters and Essays] (SQN, 2013).



    Bewilderments of Vision: Hallucination and Literature, 1880-1914 (Sussex Academic Press, 2013) by Oliver Tearle includes a chapter on Arthur Machen (whose sesquicentennial birth year this is).



     Robert E. Howard may get his critical due in Conan Meets the Academy: Multidisciplinary Essays on the Enduring Barbarian (McFarland, 2012) by Jonas Prida. *** Michael Dirda writes about the work of M. P. Shiel, with a special look at The Purple Cloud. *** Jean Ray: L'Alchimie du Mystère [Jean Ray: The Alchemy of Mystery] (Belles Lettres, 2010) by Arnaud Huftier offers criticism about the "European Lovecraft".



    "Ramsey Campbell's Haunted Liverpool" is a chapter written by Andy Sawyer in Writing Liverpool : Essays and Interviews (Liverpool University Press, 2007) edited by Michael Murphy and Deryn-Rees Jones. *** Spanish author Carlos Sisi has won the Premio Internacional de Ciencia Ficción y Literatura Fantástica Minotauro [International Prize for Science Fiction and Fantastic Literature Minotaur] for the novel Panteón, described by the jury as Lovecraftian. *** Another Spanish writer as well as critic, Carlos Sandoval, has produced the 75 page fiction El Círculo de Lovecraft [The Lovecraft Circle] (Relectura, 2011).

    *** According to the Publishers Weekly reviewer of Teleportation Accident: A Novel by Ned Beauman, the writings of Lovecraft figure in a conspiracy involving the main character. *** Influence or not? In Michael Crichton's novel Congo adventurers discover a lost city. Joseph D. Andriano describes part of what happens: "Walking through the ruins, the explorers find a mural, which tells 'the story':  the builders domesticated gorillas" who "'turned on their masters'".[1] This is quite At the Mountains of Madness, where through murals the protagonists discover the Old Ones created shoggoths who turned on them. *** A library conference I recently attended referenced "The Libronomicon," which mentioned sacrifices to the gods.


[1] p. 85, Joseph D. Andriano, Immortal Monster: The Mythological Evolution of the Fantastic Beast in Modern Fiction and Film (Greenwood Presss, 1999).


"A jumble of Algonquin roots"

   So HPL described the origin of the name "Miskatonic". What exactly were those roots? With a straight face William Bright includes in Native American Placenames of the United States (University of Oklahoma Press, 2004) this entry:  "MISKATONIC River (Mass., Arkham Co.) \mis ka ton' ik\. From SNEng. Algonquian, perhaps meaning 'red river', from <musqui, mishque> 'red' plus <tunkw> 'tidal stream'" (p. 290). The rendering of Miskatonic into "red river" is particularly persuasive upon the thought that a likely origin of the name "Rhode Island" is from the Dutch Roodt Eyelandt (i.e., Red Island).[2] George R. Stewart explained, "De Laet, a Dutchman writing in 1630, had made mention of a 'little reddish island' in that vicinity, and the Dutch may thus have had a common name Roode Eyland, without any h, before 1644".[3]

    The beginning of "Miskatonic" has a suspicious resemblance to the Rhode Island town name of "Misquamicut". Several variants of "Miska-" have endings with "suck" (as in "Moshassuck"), "sick," etc.[4]  The "-tonic" conclusion may have been influenced by the Housatonic River, a name from the Eastern Algonquian Mahican tribe. The river, however, is not in Rhode Island, but in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

    The word "Miskatonic" is an anglicization from the American Indian.[5] As such it fits into one of three categories of bilingual place names. According to W. F. H. Nicolaisen "The name in one language is a phonological adaptation of the name in the other language."[6] Cut adrift from its parent language, the name becomes meaningless without an etymological key, in this case from the Algonquian.


[2] There may be an aural pun. Possibly the pronunciation of "Rhode" and "red" sounded even closer from the lips of a native Rhode Islander of Lovecraft's generation. Also, if Lovecraft thought geologically, a contributory reason for the name originated from red beds of sedimentary rock, the color due to ferric oxide.

[3] George R. Stewart, Names on the Land (Random House, 1945), p. 73. Is it "Roode Eyland" or "Roodt Eyelandt"?

[4] For a list of Rhode Island Indian names, see American Indian Place Names In Rhode Island:  Past & Present  by Frank Waabu O'Brien.

[5] According to Rhode Island: A Guide to the Smallest State, (Houghton Mifflin, 1937) "The imprint of the Indian survives in Rhode Island today chiefly in the many names derived from Indian usage" (p. 30).

[6] Quoted in Frank Nuessel, The Study of Names: A Guide to the Principles and Topics (Greenwood Press, 1992), p. 59.


Madison Grant

    Author of the 1916 The Passing of the Great Race, Madison Grant is an image of HPL, both in character and outlook. John Higham states that Grant was "intellectually the most important nativist in recent American history. All of the trends in race-thinking converged upon him. A Park Avenue bachelor, he was the most lordly of patricians. . .  he was both an expert genealogist and a charter member of the Society of Colonial Wars. Always he resisted doggedly any intrusion of the hoi polloi."[7] A sportsman and hunter, there is something of Dunsany about him as well.  When Higham points out that "Grant was well supplied with scientific information yet free from a scientist's scruple in interpreting it" I think he might have hit upon a flaw in HPL, who could have availed himself of the opportunity of testing his ideas about race as he had about religion.

    By 1910 Grant had "a passionate hatred of the new immigration. He showed little concern over relations between whites and Negroes or Orientals. His deadliest animus focused on the Jews, whom he saw all about him in New York." Here there is a divergence with HPL, who reserved his deepest venom for blacks, though Orientals also came in for it as well as Jews.

    Higham concludes that The Passing of the Great Race "turned ultimately into a defense of both class and racial consciousness, the former being dependent on the latter. The argument broadened from nativism to an appeal for aristocracy as a necessary correlative in maintaining racial purity." That Grant upbraided Christianity for its humanitarianism and its weakening of "racial pride" must have further appealed to Lovecraft.  


[7] All quotes p. 155-157, John Higham, Strangers in the Land (Rutgers University Press, 1955).


    Watching some zoo animals, polymath Lewis Thomas was transported and astonished. He began to consider how his own reaction reflected human behavior. "Standing, swiveling flabbergasted, feeling exultation and a rush of friendship... We are stamped with stereotyped, unalterable patterns of response, ready to be released. And the behavior released in us, by such confrontations, is, essentially, a surprised affection. It is compulsory behavior... Left to ourselves, mechanistic and autonomic, we hanker for friends." Visiting colonial haunts as well as observing certain scenery, HPL registered his own enrapturement in many letters. Maybe his delight was fuel for his friendship.

    I'll add the semi-detached thought that his letters might be comparable with Samuel Pepys' diary--not so private and candid, but representative of a time and outlook that would be of interest to the historian.


Sez I (160 Mailing)

    Chris (Hackles): A Handbook to Literature (1960) defines a commonplace book as "a classified collection of quotations or arguments prepared for reference purposes" (p. 101). Strictly speaking, Lovecraft's was not a commonplace book, unless you extend the definition to a repository of unordered story ideas. The ideas are typically generic so they can be claimed for any number of stories in the dark fantasy vein. A labor intensive project would be to compare the ideas against those in the Stith Thompson multi-volume Motif-Index of Folk-Literature: A Classification of Narrative Elements in Folktales, Ballads, Myths, Fables, Medieval Romances, Exempla, Fabliaux, Jest-Books, and Local Legends. I bet you could hit pay dirt. (Note that I'm not volunteering. :]) *** Your contribution is another example where an online (and searchable) presence would enhance its value as well as giving it greater exposure.

    Don and Mollie (The Morgan and Rice Gazette): Knowing your interest in religion, I recommend for your reading Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought by Pascal Boyer; it's thought-opening, especially the latter part. *** I was recently in windy New Mexico and Roswell. I suggest an altered motto for the New Mexico license plates--"Land of Enchantment and the Burlesons". But that may be redundant.

    T. E. (The Cosmicomicon): My favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie is Psycho. After that, the preference is probably Rear Window, then Shadow of a Doubt. "The Magic Shop" has scenes I remember still after forty or more years. There's David Opatoshu's head transformation, the man talking about the dog that rotted before his eyes, and the evil kid John Megna causing a face to bleed; very spooky, and in some ways a pre-Omen. I recall "The Jar" was less successful--offbeat enough, but too much dialogue and character study. Those are among the handful of episodes that have stuck with me. *** Whether "writers lower standards ... to snare an ever-shrinking pool of actual readers" is questionable. The readers left may be those who are more likely to demand quality.

    Mark (Wraiths of Winnemucca): Statistics as applied to wordage of Howard and company is something that I hope you do more about, for who knows what discoveries might come of it. A while ago I used the Gunning-Fogg Index as applied to HPL; I later discovered that Lincoln Van Rose had pre-empted me in a 1980's Fantasy Commentator.

    T. A. (Redux: A Journal of Reflection): Arguing with a Creationist/Intelligent Designer has the same rewards and likelihood as persuading any fanatic. You are dealing with theology wearing a patina of science. *** The contrived ending for "The Picture in the House" was avoidable. The narrator could have simply fled, as he did in "The Whisperer in Darkness"; if he later returned, he could have discovered the house destroyed by lightning. Maybe the fault was Lovecraft's narrative inexperience.

    John (Hesperia): The most interesting pieces concerned Arkham House's lost chapbooks and Avram's Davidson's disdain for Lovecraft (and quasi-comeuppance). I'm no bibliophile, so I undervalue your substantial research on Ben Abramson's publications.

    David (Drake's Potpourri): I suspect that like a number of writers with imagination Wellman didn't let facts obstruct a yarn. *** When interviewed in Wichita Ginger Rogers wasn't far from her hometown of Kansas City.

    Randy (Interlude: Memento Mori): That Golda Meir was a member of the Amateur Press Association adds a fascinating juxtaposition to HPL. Even if they didn't correspond, they may have met the same people.

    Leigh (Mantichore): Did Lovecraft have a basic understanding of keyboard playing? For decades I've known the anecdote about "Yes, We Have No Bananas" (I've a 1920's recording of the song), but you made the logical connection that I overlooked. Besides knowing a string instrument (the violin) and (apparently) a keyboard, he also played a wind instrument (the kazoo), when he was a member of a band. Now, were he also able to play brass and percussion, HPL would be a one-man orchestra.


"A Mountain Walked or Stumbled"

    I intended the following to be compassed within a few paragraphs, but it went Topsy, no less in the footnotes as in the text; the subject seems so obvious I'm afraid that I will, to a degree, be treading in someone else's tracks.

    Cthulhu's famous metaphoric description (or non-description) making up the title is eventually followed by the simile "like Polypheme cursing the fleeing ship of Odysseus" during the pursuit of Johansen (a Norwegian Ulysses) and his fellows.[8] Lovecraft chose the line deliberately, as an examination of the scene in the Odyssey persuades.

    According to Samuel Butler's 1900 translation of the Odyssey, Polyphemus "was a horrid creature, not like a human being at all, but resembling rather some crag that stands out boldly against the sky on the top of a high mountain." This is appropriate not only as a way of establishing the size of the monster[9] but because the Cyclopes make their home in the mountains. The mountain comes up again, literally, for as a result of Ulysses' taunt Polyphemus "got more and more furious ... so he tore the top from off a high mountain, and flung it just in front of my ship so that it was within a little of hitting the end of the rudder."[10] A modern poet, Robert Fagles, translated the appearance of Polyphemus as


"Here was a piece of work, by god, a monster

built like no mortal who ever supped on bread,

no, like a shaggy peak, I'd say-a man-mountain

rearing head and shoulders over the world."[11]


    While it is possible that he knew the Butler translation, and impossible he read the Fagles, Lovecraft certainly was familiar with the one by Alexander Pope.[12] An edition was in his library, and he gave Pope explicit credit in his 1897 The Young Folks' Ulysses or The Odyssey in Plain Old English Verse,[13] which makes the Cyclops episode prominent, giving it 16 of the poem's 88 lines that cover the post-Troy career of Ulysses. Pope also provided a mountain image for Polyphemus:


"A form enormous! far unlike the race

Of human birth, in stature, or in face;

As some lone mountain's monstrous growth he stood"


Pope uses the form "Polypheme"--presumably due to its scannability--and so, presumably, Lovecraft follows.

    Besides Pope, the link from Polyphemus to Cthulhu could also be essayist Charles Lamb, whose The Adventures of Ulysses, written for a juvenile audience, was in Lovecraft's library.[14] Edith Hall has it that "Lamb had altered the structure of the Odyssey so as to upgrade the incident with Polyphemus the Cyclops, making it the centrepiece of his first chapter. Lamb seems instinctively to have recognized how appealing children would find the tale... Lamb's vivid adaptation partly explains the robust cultural presence Polyphemus has enjoyed ever since."[15] It's a small leap to think that Lovecraft read it when young, thrilling to such descriptions as "The first sign of habitation which [Ulysses and his men] came to was a giant's cave rudely fashioned, but of a size which betokened the vast proportions of its owner...  Polyphemus, the largest and savagest of the Cyclops... He looked more like a mountain crag than a man." Inhospitably he grabs two men, "as if they had been no more than children ... dashed their brains out against the earth, and (shocking to relate) tore in pieces their limbs, and devoured them, yet warm and trembling, making a lion's meal of them, lapping the blood: for the Cyclops are man-eaters, and esteem human flesh to be a delicacy far above goat's or kid's."

    Homer's comparison of Polyphemus with a mountain makes sense in a way that doesn't for Cthulhu. The Cyclops lives in a mountainous region--symbolically the abode of gods and supernatural beings--and is a personification or extension of the landscape and its various associations of wilderness, inimicality, and unknownness. While Cthulhu, like its predecessor, represents a force of nature, the comparison with the mountain has much less artistic justification.

    Yet, the Cyclopes inspired Lovecraft. A favored word in his fiction, "cyclopean" is evoked in at least a dozen tales, its most frequent association being with architecture and building. According to The Columbia Encyclopedia "The Cyclopean technique involves the use of huge, irregular boulders, carefully fitted together without the use of mortar."[16] The word is also a synonym for "huge". Taken together, the two aspects of "cyclopean" reinforce each other and add up to the concept of a "mountain".

    Ironically, the comparison of Cthulhu with a mountain is de-mythological, a step back in mythological evolution.[17] In their book When They Severed Earth from Sky the Barbers examine the origins of myth.[18] To take one example from many, they argue that the story of Prometheus (that stealer of fire for mankind) was originally a first-hand witnessing of a volcanic mountain in eruption that eventually became a symbolic narrative as a way to orally and compactly transmit the event. The same process, it seems to me, is more obvious for the Polyphemus episode. The rock heaved at the crew is a bomb--a boulder--that a volcano (Polyphemus) spews. More explicitly, another myth has the Cyclopes helping Hephaestus, a god of volcanoes.[19]

    In a second irony--and perhaps a window on the myth-making process--Polyphemus was involved with a story of transformation, as told by Ovid.[20] Using a rock again, this time with full effect, he killed his rival-in-love Acis, a shepherd who turns into a river. Here are two nature personifications, with a volcanic mountain become a giant and a man become a river.

    Prior to "The Call of Cthulhu" are references to Polyphemus. In "Dagon" the title being is Cthulhu lite--"vast, Polyphemus-like, and loathsome"; "Imprisoned with the Pharaohs" features a "yawning Polyphemus-door", which presumably evokes the Cyclops' stature.

   Mountainous size is not the only shared attribute between the things. Both have a man-killing ability; fatally "three men were swept up by the flabby claws" of Cthulhu, and (thanks to Lamb) the reader is vividly acquainted with the Cyclops' sanguinary appetite (in another poetry translation "His bloody hand/ Snatched two unhappy of my martial  band").[21] The Greeks are cowed by Polyphemus, though not to the depth of pure fright.

     It is possible to think of Polyphemus in moral terms--arrogance and impiety--but what morality has Lovecraft's monster?[22] In a sense Cthulhu is Polyphemus without an Odysseus, who represents the triumph of cunning or rationality over the brute and irrational, over "a universe in chaos"; whereas Lovecraft's tale has reversed this.[23] But though he might invade your dreams, Cthulhu still has a way to go to rival Polyphemus "the best known ogre in literature".[24] However, I wander away from the theme of simile and mountain.

    This subject could be expanded. In what various ways did the Cyclops episode resonate through and fashion Lovecraft's imagination? How did Lovecraft represent the mountain in his works? In what way did he use other similes? How does Polyphemus/Cthulhu tie into the running appearance of Cyclopean buildings? Did illustrations of Polyphemus have any affect on his imagination? Perhaps the future will bequeath us a book such as Classical Allusions in H. P. Lovecraft, currently a jerry-built nothing a la The Necronomicon that could join my similarly unexistent The Annotated Lovecraft --which I playfully "cited" a decade or so ago--in some bibliographical never land.[25]


[8] My guess is the introduction of Polyphemus is the editorial intrusion of Francis Wayland Thurston rather than Johansen. How much any narrator interprets a story in Lovecraft's corpus could prove an intriguing subject.

[9] "Odysseus stresses the creature's size, which is dreadful in itself: the word πελώριος ... connotes 'terrible', 'monstrous', as well as 'large' ... Polyphemus is weird because he is too much a part of nature; watching him walk and hearing him talk is like seeing trees walk and stones speak." Elizabeth O'Keefe, The Cyclops in Literature from Homer to Joyce: The Evolution of an Ogre. B. A. Research Paper. Smith College, 1972, p. 7-8. Cthulhu's mountainous stature is prefigured as "a gigantic thing 'miles high' which walked or lumbered about".

[10] "Both the Cyclops and the Laestrygones are giants whose size is conveyed through a comparison with a mountain" (p. 57, Marianne Govers Hopman, Scylla: Myth, Metaphor, Paradox [Cambridge University Press, 2012]). In another section of the poem the crew finds the wife of a Laestrygonian "to be a giantess as huge as a mountain, and they were horrified at the sight of her" (Butler).

    Fans of the movie classic The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad will recall that the Harryhausen-animated Cyclops hurls a rock that swamps a fleeing boat and then,  like Cthulhu, wades into the sea.

[11] The text is online. Viking first published the book in 1996.

[12] Even though it resulted in poetic productions of "eighteenth-century rubbish", I reckon the influence of Pope greater on HPL than that of  Poe or Dunsany.

[13] See the text.

[14] See item 510 in Lovecraft's Library (2002). Though not indicated it is a section in The Complete Works in Prose and Verse of Charles Lamb. For a discussion of Lamb's The Adventures of Ulysses as it relates to  Harper's Half-Hour Series, check the several posts (beginning 3 April 2010) by Chris Perridas in H. P. Lovecraft And His Legacy.

[15] Edith Hall, "Modern Myths of the Cyclops" (TLS The Times Literary Supplement, 24 May 2006)  

[16] Retrieved 8 March 2013.

[17] While I've looked at Cthulhu as Polyphemus-like, another comparison is with certain monsters of fairy stories. O'Keefe observes (p. 42) that Vergil's "Polyphemus is very much like the one-dimensional ogre of the folk tale; he is allowed no character traits which would detract from his monstrous nature". That is, a pure monster. When the "monster" character becomes decadent, it's tamed into a comic figure. This happened with Polyphemus in his treatment by such artists as Euripides and James Joyce. This has also happened with Cthulhu, as witness mythos toys and the several children's books that feature it.

[18] Elizabeth Wayland Barber and Paul T. Barber, When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth (Princeton University Press, 2004).

[19] In The Aeneid the poet Vergil describes eruptions of a volcano "which are said to be caused by the restless movements of a giant imprisoned within it for his revolt against Jupiter. This wild, terrible region is a fitting home for the Cyclopes, who resemble the volcano in size and in their destructive natures" (O'Keefe, p. 41). Cf. the lines from Horace: "Vulcan feeds / The fires that heat the Cyclops' busy home".

[20] In Metamorphoses, Book xiv the sailor survivor Achaemenides gives a blood-curdling account of the encounter with Polyphemus. O'Keefe calls it a "cheap, penny dreadful style, steeped in gore" (p. 46).

[21] Quoted in Anna Letitia Barbauld, "Reflections on the Pleasures of Distress and Terror" (New England Review [Summer 2001]), p. 183.

[22] See p. 49-50, Shirley Clay Scott, "Man, Mind, and Monster: Polyphemus from Homer Through Joyce" (Classical and Modern Literature, Fall 1995; p. 19-75). The article traces Polyphemus' literary lineage.

[23] O'Keefe, p. 44. She also writes (p. 26), "Polyphemus' defeat was a reassurance that man could exercise control over superior strength by the use of his intelligence".

[24] Ibid, p. [i]

[25] I would be less than puckish if I omitted observing that the tale's exhortative final line--"see that it [the manuscript] meets no other eye"--recalls the blinding of the Cyclops.


In One Geis or Another

    Multiple Hugo-winner for his fan writing and publications, Richard E. Geis has died. His was not the first fanzine that I encountered, but The Alien Critic and its aka's impressed me with their personality, their candor, their irreverent humor, their gossipiness, and their feuds; they showed the potentiality and sociability of this kind of self-publication.

     In the 1970's Hollywood Boulevard had abundant bookstores, though today time and tawdriness has done away with most. In one there were bins of zines, and in going through them I came across TAC. I was taken and surprised by the volumes I discovered, and subsequently became a subscriber. Though there were letters and comments from such erstwhile correspondents as Robert Bloch, material about Lovecraft didn't take a lot of space, but I chuckle at the way Geis caught the hero-worship of his fans in a book review of a biography, perhaps, where he said in effect, Discover where He walked, where He visited, and what He thought.





Thanks for reading the 4,948 words of issue 47 of The Limbonaut (number 76 of the print The Criticaster [Spring 2013, Esoteric Order of Dagon mailing 162]) by me, Steve Walker. In Georgia font, sizes 9-12. Transferred online with edits 11 November 2013.